Rebecca Martin (Organizer of Chicago Women Rising): Hi Jaclyn, thank you for sharing your story. First, I’d love to start with your background. Where did you grow up? What were you passionate about as a child/teenager and what shaped you to your present career?
Jaclyn Unger: Hi Rebecca, thanks again for having me on the blog! I grew up in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. As a child I was passionate about sports and art – I had a very creative side, and sports brought out my competitive side, but also helped me to learn about teamwork.
As I got older, I became more interested in finance and investing as my father was an accountant for almost 30 years and taught me a lot about the importance of saving for future. He had me invest in my first stock when I was 12 (with some of my babysitting money), and I was fascinated with watching how it performed in the market.
RM: Can you walk me through what drove you to be a financial professional, where did you go to school, what job/life experiences brought you to your career?
JU: My original career path was to earn my business degree at Illinois State University for Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship, and upon graduate earn a second degree in Interior Design. My plans changed, however, when the market crashed in 2008 (I had 1 year of undergrad remaining) realizing that few people would have interest in redesigning their home when they just lost a large amount of their nest egg and now had different priorities.
Throughout my college career I had developed an additional interest in insurance (aside from investing and interior design), so after the correction, I decided to look for an internship to continuing expanding my knowledge on the topic. I “politely persisted” for an internship with one of the top life insurance producers in the country, and from there I fell in love with the industry and declared myself a “life insurance nerd,” a nickname I still use today that provide my clients with a smile and a laugh. After completing the internship, I began my pre-licensing courses for insurance and investments, and shortly after graduation, I obtained my licenses.
I was offered a position at State Farm a month after graduation. I sold various types of insurance and investments, but was deemed the “life insurance specialist” in my office. It was a great first job that provided me with a ton of experience, however after about a year I decided that in order to be more fulfilled in my career, I wanted to move over to financial advisement.
I’ve been an advisor for almost 9 years, and have been lucky enough to have some excellent mentors along the way who have made me fall more in love with this business and have continued to expand my knowledge base and excitement for this industry.
RM: What is your passion behind what you do? Where do see it taking you?
JU: I am extremely passionate about helping my clients achieve their goals. I always refer to my client relationships as partnerships. It’s very important that they understand this isn’t a one way street, but that we are a team working together towards helping them achieve their goals.
I hope to see my passion taking me to the next level in my career. I would love to continue building out my team and the opportunity to mentor other women in the business.
RM: Beyond the day to day, what gets you going, what are you passionate about?
JU: What gets me going is waking up to a different day every day. One of the reasons I left my very first job is because I didn’t enjoy sitting behind a desk from 9-5. I get excited to continuously meet new people, make connections, and help others reach their goals.
Over the past couple years, my boss and I have been working to lead the industry in educating and empowering women in finance. Being a female in an industry full of men, and working with a majority of female clients, I’ve become extremely passionate about spreading the word of our initiative not only in Illinois but across the country. We’ve been hosting quarterly happy hour events, as well as company lunch and learns, and teaming up with other great female professionals to provide education and resources on various topics to our attendees.
It gives me a sense of accomplishment to get such positive feedback from our guests that have attended, but also appreciate their suggestions on how to improve our initiative.
RM: What are your favorite things to do in Chicago? How do you feel Chicago fits in to your career and your life?
JU: My favorite things to do in Chicago are trying new restaurants – I love to eat and it seems there’s a new restaurant that pops up every week. My list continues to grow, so I’m hoping I’ll eventually get to all of them. I also enjoy exploring the city – despite living here since birth, I find there’s always something new to see or do.
Chicago fits into my career and life because it is fast paced and very diverse. I have a hard time getting myself to slow down at times, and feel I’ve met many like-minded young professionals in the same boat. They’ve fueled me to make my goals bigger and work harder to achieve success. I’ve also enjoyed getting the opportunity to meet people that have moved here from across the country as well those that have moved internationally. Chicago is a very friendly place, and I’ve found it to be easier to meet and socialize with people which has helped me to expand my network and make some great connections.
RM: Thank you for sharing your story, and where can people find you?
JU: My website http://www.womentalkfinance.com/Jaclyn-Unger.e766570.htm
and on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaclyn-unger-08398b69/